This past week or so, I’ve taken part in the SPARK art from writing: writing from art project. Spark is a collaboration art/writing project. On day one, I sent a poem to my artist partner, Bonnie Lebesch, and she sent me a piece of artwork. We had 10 days to create response pieces from the work we shared with one another. Here’s a link to the poem inspiration piece I sent Bonnie and her response artwork: AND WE’LL DANCE Here’s a link to the artwork inspiration piece Bonnie sent me and my response poem: A UNIVERSE BORN
For writers and artists out there, please note that SPARK is an ongoing project. SPARK Rounds take place in February, May, August, and October. If you’d like to join in on the SPARK fun, you can contact the SPARK people here: GET SPARKED
To see ALL the SPARK10 pieces, you can go here: SEE THE WORK
This week I was honoured to find out that a newly discovered mentor had chosen me as one of three recipients of her pay-it-forward Honest Scrap Award! Noelle Bickle is a writer, and writing instructor, I met through Facebook and the WCDR. She facilitated a WCDR After-Breakfast Mini-Workshop in October that I attended— 30-Seconds of Shameless Self-Promotion. I thought it was fabulous. I left it with a 30 second ‘commercial’ for my most recent novel. This was no easy task for me! I’ve always been horrified by the prospects of distilling my manuscripts down to easy ‘it’s about’ infomercials. I’d stammer and hem and haw and finally come up with, ‘you know…stuff.’ Noelle’s workshop helped me get a grasp on this impossible task. I found her exuberant energy extremely infectious. Great workshop! To find out that Noelle flagged me as an inspiration was beyond a compliment! Thanks, Noelle! I wish I could send the Honest Scrap Award back to you…but I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to work. (-:
With the award comes the requirement to reveal “10 Honest Things” about me. So…here they are:
I am an extremely LAZY writer. It’s true. I feel embarrassed every time people go on about how busy I am and how many things I have going on at once. Because I really don’t. It’s all smoke and mirrors. I start submitting once THE END is written at the end of the first draft. I throw poems together without even thinking about what I’m writing. If I ever spent more than 5 minutes on a poem, I can’t remember doing so. I’m a hack. I toss everything together without putting any thought into it…and then I resent every second I spend editing. I hate editing. So much so, that I often don’t do it.
I LOVE movies. I love going to the theatre to see them…and I almost love the previews and the dimming lights and the time leading up to the feature movie more than actually watching the movie. I’m a theatre going junkie. I still remember growing up in Toronto and being dropped off in front of the theatre on Saturdays with my brother and friends. The curtains, the smells, the punches in the arm, the popcorn tossing, the Canadian National Anthem (Yes…I’m that old). I love it. I always like a bad movie when I see it at a theatre.
I’m madly in love with the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION and there is almost nothing I wouldn’t do for them. From the day I became a member, I have felt indebted to them. Just holding the membership makes me feel like an honest to God writer. I’ve been with them now since 2002-03. My first publications came as a direct result of attending their fabulous monthly breakfast meetings. I’ve met so many fabulous people through this community. It’s hard to believe it took me years to work up the courage to join and then months to work up the courage to attend a breakfast meeting. I had this never-ending mantra in my head I-AM-NOT-A-WRITER. I felt like they would see right through the façade. I was afraid that the second I walked through the doors at the first meeting the jig would be up! But they welcomed me with open arms. Amazing group.
I married my best friend. She always makes me laugh even though she always says I’m laughing at her. “You’re mocking me, aren’t you?” NO. You really are that funny! Amazing too. 21 years this past July 11th!
I LOVE MUSIC. I’m partial to all 80s punk, new wave, etc, etc. But I also love new music and 70s rock and punk and DISCO. Yes, even disco. I hate country. Hate is too weak a term, actually. I’ve been really getting into K’Naan. I got turned on to him when I was in Kenya last December. Originally, this had nothing to do with his music. I still didn’t know it last December. I have a tendency to miss new music because I listen to CDs. While in Kenya, whenever a Kenyan would discover a member of our group was American, they would raise a fist and say, “OBAMA!” There is MEGA Obama love there. And whenever they would discover that a member of our group was Canadian, they would raise a fist with just as much respect and awe and say, “K’NAAN!” Clearly I had to find out who this K’Naan guy was! Turns out I LOVE his music. I often write to it lately. You should seriously check out his FATIMA. Amazing song! Favourite bands/Artists: T-Rex, The Cure, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, The Beatles, Jeff Buckley, The B52s, Haysi Fantayzee,Tragically Hip (Gordon Downie is an absolutely killer poet!), Bauhaus, The Smiths, The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Leonard Cohen, Michael Jackson, AC/DC, TheThe, Bjork, Yaz(oo), The Cult, Bob Marley, Paul Simon, Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode…this is ridiculous. I could go on forever!
I have 5 favourite spots in the world. 1)Where I am 2)New Brunswick 3)Kenya 4)Cozumel 5)Huntsville. I’d love to split my year between these 5 places…2.4 months at each… of course, I will have to win that lottery first. I’m all set to camp out in #1 and wait.
My favourite writing gig is TRAFALGAR24 Play Creation Festival. I love seeing my words come to life on stage less than 24 hours after I penned them. It is an experience that is unfathomable until it happens…and, frankly, just as unfathomable after it happens. The actors blow me away! They get the script down to an exact tee. So talented! I can’t believe they let me do this. I love it so much it hurts!
One of my favourite memories is being at a Leonard Cohen concert with my daughter. We are such Cohen fan-geeks. You haven’t lived until you share a concert experience with your grown child. (-:
I didn’t think it was possible to have more fun with my son than we have on our Friday Afternoon Golf outings. Then we drove a dune-buggy through the jungles of Cozumel together, and swam in underwater caves in the heart of those jungles. Floating in the darkness and watching the thousands of bats above our heads come to life is an experience I will never forget. It’s great to see your child enjoy life…even if he is a teenage dirtbag. (-;
I LOVE helping other writers. Being given the gift of the love of writing is like no other thing. It makes you want to share that gift and spread that feeling. I’m not saying I have a writing gift…my gift is the love of actually writing. I know that I don’t have to be a good writer to love writing. It’s about the connection that writing gives me. Being able to help other writers connect with the love of writing is a gift unto itself. That’s why I’m so passionate about getting involved in the WCDR and about the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE. I love the writing community. I don’t see jealousy or pettiness in the writing community. Writers always seem able to put these things aside…to just enjoy each other’s successes and feel compassion and empathy in the face of each other’s failures. When I began to take writing seriously, I felt like I found my home. It’s almost too good to be real. Someone pinch me!
Being granted The Honest Scrap Award also requires that I recognize 3 fellow bloggers that I deem worthy of the award. This was an easy decision for me to make. One of these people, I know in the real world…she’s a lovely unassuming gentle soul who is also a wonderful writer. She’s also always generous to her fellow writers. The second, a writer I connected with around the internet…and whose novel, BREAK, I later fell in love with. Her blog is always filled with wonderful advice for fellow writers. And the third is a fellow MuseItUp Publishing author…whose blog always has great author interviews.
So, in the order of mention used above, here are my 3 choices. Go give their blogs a visit:
To the three of you…I bestow the HONEST SCRAP AWARD onto you for your enthusiasm, professionalism and clear desire to help your fellow writers! Thanks. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to post 10 Honest Things about yourselves on your blog and follow that with awarding the award onto others.
The Honest Scrap Award:
This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who often times put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul. This means so much to me as that is the root reason of why and what I write about. I believe writing is your heart without a mask. My writing, whether it be a blog post, a poem, a piece of prose or a WIP is the truest part of my soul. To me writing is about honesty and truth-seeking. There is the saying that the pen is more powerful than the sword. I believe that writing is a way to challenge people and to speak often times for those who cannot speak.
What is SPARK? I’m so glad you asked. You can click on the Spark 10 participant badge above to visit the Spark site.
SPARK is a participatory creativity event that takes place four times a year. The rules are simple: Writers send their artist partners a story or a poem; artists send an image of their painting, photograph or sculpture. Musicians and video artists send either a link or a file of their work. Once all the creations have changed hands, the participants have 10 days to use their designated partner’s piece as a jumping off point for new work of their own.
The SPARK site will post the inspiration pieces, along with the response pieces, once the 10 day project draws to a close. It’s a collaborative art project! And SPARK site readers get to see how art begets art in such a unique and interesting way.
Keep a link to the SPARK site so you can discover the inspiration and response pieces, once the project wraps up. There are participants from all over the world taking part. It’s bound to be an exciting exhibit, once unveiled!
(I received a painting from a fellow participant, and I sent her a poem. Now, we are both leaping away from these pieces to create two new ones! Can’t wait to see what she comes up with.)
It’s almost time for the REGISTRATIONS to open for the April 30th Ontario Writers’ Conference! Why am I so excited? I am looking after registrations this year! Also, I know how abfab the event is going to be. I’ve been seeing it take shape behind the curtain and it’s looking absolutely stunning! I can’t wait to see how this one unfolds!
We are a volunteer committee of 9 members and we really work hard to pull together a great conference experience for those attending. The Ontario Writers’ Conference is a non-profit entity. We do this for the love of writing and for the love of writers. Bottom line, we want our attendees to have a great time and take home a wealth of knowledge that they can later translate into writerly success! That’s what it’s all about.
EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION DISCOUNTS – From November 1st, 2010 to December 15th, 2010.
Some of the line-up:
ROBERT J. WIERSEMA will be teaching a workshop and he will also be our Keynote Dinner Speaker! Mr. Wiersema will be facilitating Slaying Your Darlings – Pushing People’s Buttons: Sometimes keeping the momentum going necessitates driving your story off a cliff! Learn how to push the reader’s buttons to keep them turning those pages.
RAY ROBERTSON will be facilitating the workshop Thou Shalt Not Tell: “Showing” is the foundation of all good writing with an active voice and ample use of all five senses. Exercises and examples will help you hone your craft and bring your writing to life in a whole new manner.
WAYSON CHOY, who is our honorary patron, will be facilitating a workshop this year! Mr. Choy will be facilitating Risky Business – Telling the Story You’re Dying To Tell No Matter What People Think: Who better than acclaimed Canadian author Wayson Choy to use dying, story and “what people think” in the same sentence! He’ll share experiences from his own life and how he turned this into great reading.
Genre Buffet Roundtable (Ziana de Bethune (Horror-Fantasy) | Chevon Gael (Erotic-Romance) | Neil Crone (Humour) | Barbara Fradkin (Mystery) ): Often wondered about writing in a different genre or not know what to do with strange characters that showed up in your head? This is your opportunity to question and discuss erotic-romance, horror-fantasy, humour or mystery with four successful Canadian writers in their fields.
Delayed Gratification – How to Build Suspense facilitated by Annette McLeod : Put a character up a tree. Add a thunderstorm. Then a villain with a chainsaw. Get the point? Learn how to create intensity, build suspense and keep momentum going to the bitter end.
1) I had a wonderful experience participating in the Uxbridge 25-Hour Masterpiece Gala! Thanks to Rita Jackson and Nancy Melcher, and the rest of the organizers, for allowing me to participate. We had 25 hours to write, rehearse and perform a play. I was blessed to work with an incredible director and 4 amazing actors. The show was a success! Thank you to Jessica Outram, not only for being a wonderful director but also for including me in the post-writing experience. You did an amazing job! And thanks to the actors; Chris Cornish, Jacqui Morrison, Heather Warkentin and Krista LeFort-Craig. Such a wonderful 25 hours! …makes me happy!
2) I just got back from Huntsville, Ontario, where I discovered I won the Best Young Adult Novel Award for the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon. My novel, HALF DEAD AND FULLY BROKEN, will be heading to a publisher for consideration…after the final readers give feedback to help me get it submission ready. This is my 3rd win…I also won the Best Adult Novel Award in 2007 and 2008. I am shocked that it was chosen for the award. The Muskoka Novel Marathon is such an amazing event. To sit for 72 hours and write an entire novel—surrounded by a tremendously supportive group of writers—is such a fantastic experience in itself. But we also get to raise funds for the Muskoka Literacy Council—get to fight illiteracy—while we’re at it! It’s such a wonderful event for such a great cause. …makes me happy!
There’s a reason I’m a little bit of a wreck this week. I always freak out for about a week prior to these play festivals that I get myself into! Always! It’s a healthy freak-out, though. I don’t think it would be healthy to go into these things calmly and cocky. It’s a serious thing to write, rehearse and produce a play in a day. The audience must be entertained, right. You can’t go into these things thinking, “Whatever. It’ll be great.” You have to be panicking…you have to be at the point where paper bags are needed. Hyperventilating, in this case, is a healthy reaction.
So why am I even MORE freaked-out this time?
Here’s the difference.
I wrote plays for the last two Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festivals. The 10 writers get locked into Trafalgar Castle, in Whitby, Ontario, and we each have 8 hours to write our plays. 10 playwrights in 8 hours = 10 plays. We are each given the ‘words’ or ‘prompts’ we must use in our play, along with headshots of our actors…and then we are sent into the rooms in which our plays must take place. We actually sit in/on our stages while writing.
I was amazed by how alive I felt being able to sit within the stage while writing. The play wrote itself. I just stared around at the room imaging the play coming to life. As freaked out as I was when I drove to the castle, it all fell away the minute I walked into that piano room and knew I had 8 hours to luxuriate within its walls while I did the thing I loved to do more than anything else. I sat back and let the play write itself.
When we walk away in the early morning hours, the actors and directors storm the castle. They rehearse for the next 8 hours…and then, the festival. The doors are opened to a barrage of eager theatre goers.
This coming Friday, I will be writing a play for the 25-Hour Masterpiece Festival in Uxbridge, Ontario. They are celebrating 25 years of their extremely vibrant Arts involvement. On Friday, I won’t be going into a castle. I won’t be sitting in my stage to write my play. The play won’t even be performed the next day inside an amazing room, inside an amazing castle. It will be performed on stage at the Uxbridge Music Hall…a regular (but I must add BEAUTIFUL) stage.
My stages have always been castle rooms. This is my first THEATRE STAGE play. This is ONE of the reasons I’m freaking out. The other reason. As I began to say, but got sidetracked in the saying, I will be getting a phone call at 6pm Friday night. I will be sitting at home. I will get my prompt over the phone. And then I will write my play AT HOME. I will not be on the stage looking out and imagining the audience. I won’t be walking around a deserted castle room acting out the play and feeling just a little bit crazy for doing so. I will be sitting at home, writing. Man…that’s going to be weird.
I’m going to LOVE this experience. I’m going to love it like crazy…because I’ll be doing something I love almost more than I love breathing. I am so blessed to be given these writing opportunities. I don’t know how I possibly deserve them…they just keep HAPPENING to me. Yes…I am so blessed! I love what I do!
I’m freaked out, though. I’m facing this new experience and I’m ready to run headfirst into it…but it’s going to be weird writing this play at home. Part of the adventure in writing the Trafalgar24 plays is in being there, locked into that castle in the middle of the night!
But I’ll make do. I’ll just pretend I’m sitting cross-legged in the middle of that vast Uxbridge Music Hall stage while I’m writing. And. I. Will. Write. My. Play!
6pm this coming Friday, I get my prompt and begin writing. 11pm this coming Friday, I send a finished play to the cast and director. 7:30pm this coming Saturday, the play is performed at the Uxbridge Music Hall in front of a full house.
I don’t remember a September that wasn’t action-packed. Historically, it just seems like one of those months where everything happens at once. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! This September is no exception. Things started to roll today, and it’s looking like yet another exciting September for me.
September 1st – My poem WHEN VENUS TAKES A RIDE was posted on the website of the Parliamentary Poet Laureate. It was chosen as the Poem of the Month by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Pierre DesRuisseaux. It will be featured for the month of September, and archived on the site for two years. I wrote this poem after my first day on the island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya. I went there this past December with the Summer Literary Seminars, as part of their Kenya writing program. We took a plane to Manda Island from Nairobi and then hopped a dhow over to the island of Lamu. Once there, the group was given a walking tour of Lamu Town. During this tour, one of the poets in the group, Venus Thrash, was given a ride on a donkey (there are no cars on Lamu, but there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of donkeys). The poem is about that experience.
September 11 – Just like the second Saturday of every month (except for August), the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) hosts it’s monthly Breakfast Meeting. If you’re a writer in OR NEAR the Durham Region, these are NOT to be missed. The September Breakfast Meeting speaker is Neil Crone. Personally, I think he’s one of the funniest people in Canada. It’s a DON’T-MISS month! Neil will be talking about writing humour.
September 24-25 – Uxbridge Celebration of the Arts. It’s a 25-year anniversary celebration of the vibrant artistic community of Uxbridge, Ontario. And when I say vibrant, I mean electrifying. I’m constantly amazed by the artistic community in this small town just west of Port Perry, Ontario. I’ve been drawn there on several occasions for BIG TIME artistic endeavors. This time, I’m partaking in the fun. I’ve been chosen to be the playwright for the 25-year anniversary celebration. On the 24th of September I will be given a prompt and I will have 25 hours not only to write a one-act play, but to send it off to my director, Jessica Outram, have her run through rehearsals with the actors AND have it performed live on stage at the Uxbridge Music Hall at the 25th hour. So I’m giving myself about 5-6 of those 25 hours to actually pen the script…as I think they’ll need the bulk of the hours to rehearse. This is the kind of thing I absolutely love! I was fortunate enough to do this type of playwriting on two other occasions, for Driftwood Theatre, as one of the playwrights for their 2009 and 2010 Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival. I can’t wait to find out what I will be writing about! AND…the best part…watching it come to life just a few hours after it’s written. I am constantly amazed by the talent of the directors and actors that I am fortunate enough to work with!
September 26th– I will be MUSKOKA BOUND! It’s the wrap party for the 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon. This event, held every July, has quickly become one of my favourite writing related activities! You sit in a building with approximately 30 other writers and you write a novel—in either 48 or 72 hours. How amazing is that! It was a great group this year (as it is every year). We had a lot of fun, and it’s hard to believe at the end of the weekend that there was actually time to put together a manuscript between the fun. I wrote a Young Adult novel this year – HALF DEAD AND FULLY BROKEN. I’ve been editing it since July. The wrap party is on the 26th…all the writers regroup and award trophies for various different things–BIC AWARD for Bum in Chair, Most Prolific Writer, Spirit Award, Rookie of the Year Award and the Remy Award for most money raised. Most money raised, you ask? The marathon is a double-edged sword. It is a huge benefit to those writers brave enough to participate, but it’s also a marathon of hope. Each writer raises funs for the Muskoka Literacy Council…it’s writers helping readers. The marathon raises funds and awareness for the council—it helps them to spread the joy of literacy. Another prize awarded at the wrap party is the BEST NOVEL AWARD—awarded, actually, in different categories—Best Adult Novel, Best Young Adult Novel and Best Children’s Novel. The manuscripts are sent to 6 industry judges immediately following the marathon…and they read and judge them over the summer. The winning novels get sent to participating publishers for consideration. The benefits of this event are just neverending! I have my eye on the hands on favourite for Best YA this year—I’m not going to name names (she will not be mentioned here!), but I had the opportunity to read one of the manuscripts and I found it STELLAR. We will see what the Wrap Party brings us. I consider this wrap party the official end of summer, even though Huntsville is already quite in bloom with turned foilage by the time it rolls around.
Month End – Museitup Publishing is preparing to launch! My Young Adult novel SUMMER ON FIRE will be published by Muse in July, 2011…but the publisher is launching in October. We’ve been talking excitedly about this launch behind the scenes. September is bound to thrive with chatter between publisher and cover artists and editors and writers. It’s a great family to be a part of! I’m really excited about the launch…and can feel the tsunami of its approach! September is THE month to be a Museitup member!
Not to mention! September is another month of busy planning for the 2011 ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE. This is an ongoing labour of love that factors into every month on the calendar. We want to organize the best conference every year. To do this, we must be dedicated to putting in a lot of volunteer hours. It’s worth it, though…so rewarding to see the happy faces of writers on the day of the conference!
And I’m certain there will be more excitement along the way. Like maybe a reading from author friend Karen Cole somewhere in Uxbridge, maybe! Or maybe some poetry read by friend Barbara Hunt! (-;
The 2011 Summer Literary Seminars Unified Literary Contest is now open!
What’s in it for you?
FIRST PLACE WINNERS from each category – FICTION or POETRY – will have their work featured online in Canada’s premiere literary magazine, THE WALRUS…as well as published in print in a TBA American Literary Journal.
They will also have the choice of attending (airfare, tuition, and housing included) any one of the SLS 2011 programs – in Montreal, Quebec (June 12 – 25); Vilnius, Lithuania (August); or Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya (December).
This is a HUGE prize! And a huge opportunity.
SECOND PLACE WINNERS will receive a full tuition waiver for the program of their choice.
THIRD PLACE WINNERS will receive a 50% tuition waiver for the program of their choice.
ALSO – A number of select contest participants, based on the overall strength of their work, will be offered tuition scholarships applicable to the SLS 2011 programs.